Gwyneth Paltrow is flying high @ www.dailymail.co.uk
• Gwyneth latest celebrity fan of fitness craze sweeping the globe
• Participants use silk hammocks to improve blood flow and stretch spine
• Can also form cocoons to find zen state
• Made in Chelsea cast and Mariah Carey also fans
It is the quirky new fitness craze that swept fitness studios across America at the start of last year. Finding popularity in the UK and Europe too, it is the newest yoga trend on the block – and its health benefits come highly rated. And now, AntiGravity Yoga has found itself a very famous fan in the form of Gwyneth Paltrow.
The athletic actress has written a rave review of the practice on her blog and, if her svelte figure is anything to go by, it is working a treat.
Famous fan: Athletic Gwyneth Paltrow wrote about her enjoyable experience of aerial yoga. AntiGravity Yoga, the brainchild of acrobat and gymnast Christopher Harrison, involves a thorough workout a few feet above the ground in a silk hammock that can close around the person inside to form a peaceful pod.
New classes first launched around the USA and franchises have been set up in Ireland and Italy and the UK.
Speaking about her experience, 40-year-old Gwyneth wrote: ‘We spent an afternoon in Richard Holroyd’s intimate studio that houses four AntiGravity Hammocks – basically a hammock made of silk that you can lie, hang, stretch in and more.
Cocoon craze: Closing yourself off inside the hammock allows you to focus on your mind, body and spirit and Gwyneth Paltrow is a huge fan
‘At first, we just got used to being in the swing – part of what makes it so special is the sense of suspension.
‘Then Richard showed us several moves with the hammock. In comparison to other yoga classes, the moves felt constructive without feeling like a chore.’
Founder Christopher came up with the system while playing with hammocks on an Indian retreat in 1996.
He continued to study yoga and invented apparatus for his dance troupe using flying silk to help them exercise and prepare for acrobatic displays.
Christopher, 50, said: ‘I’d been travelling all over the world performing and had put a lot of strain on my body.
Newfangled dangle: Christopher Harrison’s yoga class really took off in New York
‘But we discovered that hanging upside down in the hammocks helped to get all the kinks out.
‘We put hammocks in our practice room and used them as part of our warm up.
‘It was not only a beautiful apparatus for flying, but a great way to decompress our spine after long flights.
‘The combination of yoga and the silk hammock was inevitable.’
Less of a strain: The hammock helps take the weight off the spine and joints. Christopher Harrison developed his system after struggling to perform yoga poses on the ground because of wrist problems.
Christopher struggled with yoga poses on the ground because of wrist problems but found his practice much more successful in the air.
‘Using the hammock wasn’t challenging on my wrists,’ he said. ‘I put one in my house, and me and my friends would find ourselves hanging around in it.
Inside the hammock, you close off everything around you and have awareness of mind, body and spirit.
‘My mother wanted to exercise but she struggled because of a back problem.
‘But she tried AntiGravity yoga and was successful.’
He developed the system over the next ten years and now runs yoga classes 17 times a week from a Manhattan studio.
‘AntiGravity Yoga has become so popular that there are already similar classes springing up in England,’ said Christopher.
‘We’d like people to come to a real AntiGravity class and find out about the original.’
Hanging upside down refreshes the body’s systems, helps blood flow, and allows everyone to try postures such as the headstand and handstand, he added.
The technique uses a fusion of around 40 per cent yoga with acrobatics, dance, gymnastic moves, pilates and other disciplines and the flying silk allows participants to travel and flow freely between postures.
‘We’ve been working on developing the system for ten years and it is still evolving,’ said the instructor.
‘Now we have classes for pilates, for kids, for people with special needs.
‘My mom can do it, everyone can do it. That was the most important thing to me, that it is inclusive.’
Gwyneth isn’t the only celebrity to be relishing the rewards of the practice.
Mariah Carey and The Made In Chelsea cast are fans too.
By BIANCA LONDON
UPDATED: 17:36 GMT, 22 February 2013